Sea slime remains a problem as fish farms create ‘sewage dump’ of waste

Sea slime originating from Azzopardi Fisheries’ tuna farming pens located at Sikka l-Bajda, a few kilometres north of Selmun, remains a problem for residents of nearby coastal towns and marine life, as fish farms the size of a “village” create “sewage dumps” according to diver and activist Mark Gatt.

In a video shot last Tuesday by Gatt’s dive team outside Salina Bay uploaded to the Stop the Slime Campaign Facebook page, a patch of oily, sticky scum could be seen floating on the sea surface and sticking to the divers’ suits.

Gatt and Nicolai Abela led the Stop the Slime campaign, which ran for several years from 2016, protesting unprecedented levels of greasy, white slime spread along the coastline stretching from Mellieha to Sliema.

Speaking to The Shift, Gatt said “The slime definitely came from the Azzopardi Fisheries farms”, noting that while a 2017 relocation of the pens further offshore had “reduced the amount of slime hitting the coast over the last few years, it remains a significant problem especially out at sea.”

“It’s a sewage dump created by the vast amount of tuna out there, practically a whole village, except instead of people’s waste, it’s fish waste,” he said.

Gatt said, “while the sea slime is biodegradable, this takes time and it ends up on our coasts and in our bays, entering swimming zones.”

He said, “Most people do not realise that the sticky residue that sometimes coats ladders leading into the sea in swimming zones is actually scum and residue from fish farms, thinking instead it is just marine growth.”

Gatt, who has been diving for 40 years, said the fish farm waste has contributed to “the total destruction of Sikka l-Bajda, creating murky waters which heavily disrupt marine life without a single fish being visible when this is the case.”

Earlier this year, proposals were raised for another relocation of the pens, this time to an Aquaculture Zone 4.5 kilometres off the coast of Qala, Gozo, receiving strong objections from the Qala Local Council.

The Shift has previously reported how in 2017 the Planning Authority sanctioned the relocation of 12 of Azzopardi’s tuna pens to Sikka l-Bajda – some 5km off the St.Paul’s Bay shore – during which studies were conducted to confirm the best location for such operations.

Before the resultant Environmental Impact Assessment could be concluded, Azzopardi applied for permission to double the number of pens to 24, illegally increasing them to 22 before the permit was issued.

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Azzopardi Fisheries should be closed down
Azzopardi Fisheries should be closed down
11 days ago

Most of the Maltese coastline has this slime. Yesterday next to paradise Bay. 2 days ago in Xrobb l-Għaġin Bay. Last week in St Thomas Bay, Sliema, Mistral, Sain Paul’s Bay… a total disaster. Just so the few can export tuna, fill their pockets and continue paying bribes to our government

D. Borg
D. Borg
10 days ago

We’re letting them screw the coastline and once pristine sea, to line the pockets of the polluting tuna ranchers, who in turn “donate” to the party.
In the meantime, we’re also seem to be letting the Malta Tourism Authority screw our hard earned taxes, to satisfy the top brass’ extravagance and shower kickbacks.

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